ProdPastor1

Welcome to sermon preparation month!

In August I am focusing both episodes on sermon preparation. This is the topic I have been hearing about the most and I am want to share some great content with you.

The List:

For a More Ordered Life, Organize like a chef. Dan Charnas
In the world of cooking, the mise-en-place is a near sacred technique of chefs and line cooks of preparation. In this NPR article and sound bite, Dan shares how we can each incorporate these ideas into our own organization.

5 Reasons to take an Extended Preaching Break: Bobby Williams
Bobby shares his journey of over-preaching and the benefit of taking extended breaks from preaching at his church.

Using Evernote in Message Preparation: Bobby Wiliiams
Besides a Moleskine notebook, evernote is the tool I have heard more preachers refer to using. I use Evernote like crazy. Bobby shares how he sets up and uses Evernote to aid in his message preparation. This is a great beginners guide to using Evernote for preaching.

5 Keys to Effective Sermon Preparation

I remember when I first started preaching. There was no rhyme or reason to how I prepared. I just started typing with an empty document and hoped for the best. Later, I took a few notes from my bible and started at least working with a basic idea in mind.

Over the last several years I have put a pretty good rhythm into place. These are 5 essentials practices that I believe will help anyone’s sermon preparation.

1. Read.
That’s it. You have to be reading. Read many different types of writing; articles, magazines, the newpaper and online. Read books related or unrelated to ministry. You will be surprised how much material you begin building up in your head.

2. Have a Holding Tank.
Find a way to capture this information. I use Evernote and a Field Notes notebook. Between the two, I always have something with me. I organize evernote with three folders to keep me moving forward and specific notebooks and folders for sermons I am researching/writing and preparing.

Here is a great read from over a 100 years ago about the benefit of keeping a preaching notebook.
The Growing of a Sermon.

3. Have a Preaching Calendar.
This is the best way to stay ahead and make sure you are preaching the whole counsel of God. It also is a huge help to the folks who assist in worship.

Productive Pastor 17: Why You Need a Production Calendar

4. Ask Others
Asking other people what they need to hear from church and letting them in on the preparation and visioning part of sermon work will not only be a help to you, but teach others about the holy act of preaching and preparation.

The Social Church Webinar

5. Find/Build and Stick to a preparation rhythm.
This is one of the hardest, but most rewarding practices. Learning to get this built into your weekly schedule will transform your sermon preparation. It will keep you on task and getting done early in the week (no one likes to write a sermon on Saturday).

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Resources:
My Sermon Planning Worksheet
My Favorite Resources for Modern Preaching

On the next episode we will have John Chandler, of Sermonsmith, as our guest. He has interviewed dozens of preachers about their preparation process. It will be great.

Remember to sign up for the Productive Pastor Insider List. Get a great FREE productivity resource and the inside scoop every other Friday.

Listen:
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People ask me frequently “What do you recommend for…” I decided to curate a list of my favorite recommended resources. Some of these are free, some of them cost a little bit and others are a serious investment. However, each of these are things I have purchased, used and consider essential to ministry.

I plan on adding to the list when I come across I resource I recommend in many different situations.

My Ultimate Recommendation List

Books
Deep and Wide by Andy Stanley
I wrote off Andy Stanley for years. And I will eat my own shoe now. This book is an incredible story about what it takes to lead churches unchurched people love to attend.  Part of it is the story of Northpoint and the story of what what led Andy to start Northpoint. Through this story, the reader sees the vision and values of leading a church in both excellence and evangelism.

Church Unique: Missional Leaders Cast Vision, Capture Culture and Create Movement by Will Mancini
I think this is the book that changed everything for me in ministry. There was a time when I was hesitant towards any contemporary idea of purpose/vision etc. After reading this, I realized how wrong I was. It is absolutely essential any leader have a clear idea of where they are going and the ability to lead people along with it. Anything else is just shooting from the hip.

The 21 Most Powerful Minutes in a Leader’s Day: John Maxwell
Here is yet another book/resource I swore I didn’t need. This is the single best personal leadership development book I have read. It is a 5 day a week devotional all focused on building biblical leadership skills. My Dad tried to get me to read John Maxwell for ages and I refused. I am currently reading through it a 2nd time and I love it even more. This book sharpens anyone skills while growing them closer to the Lord through scripture, prayer and reflection.

Slideology by Nancy Duarte
Nancy Duarte is the master of modern visual storytelling and presenting. This book talks about to creative effective visual presentations people will want to learn from. I used this when I had to shift my preaching from just listening to a multi-media based sermon style. It was a life saver.

Desiring the Kingdom by James K. A. Smith
I believe there are only a few books that adequately describe the theological situation of American postmodernity. This book is possibly the best. Smith asks questions about what truly motivates us and how the church is forming the idea of “the good life” in the heart of every person.

 

.PDF’s/eBooks
Leadership andChurch Size Dynamics by Tim Keller
I recommend this .pdf to people at least once a week. I think it is essential reading for anyone in church leadership. If you are a pastor, staff member or volunteer leader, you need to read this.

Resonate by Nancy Duarte
This book used to cost money! I have actually bought it in three different formats, but now she has released it as a free online tool. The online version is an amazing learning experience, but if you want to go old school you can buy a paper copy on Amazon.

One New Thing by Darren Herbold
This .pdf features 11 church leaders answering the question “What is the one new thing that has helped your ministry excel over the last year?” The answers are golden and it is a tremendously helpful read. You can get the file for free in exchange for your email address. It’s worth it.

 

Podcasts
This is Your Life by Michael Hyatt
Michael Hyatt is the Godfather of modern podcasting. I have gone through seasons where I don’t listen to his show regularly, but then I binge on a trip and listen to 6 in a row. I think I have learned the most from Michael, more than any other podcaster, and I am thankful for his continued production.

Sermonsmith
If you preach frequently, you rarely get to interact with other preachers. This show interviews preachers from around the country about their process of preparation. Every episode is different, yet familiar.

 

Websites/Blogs
Seedbed
Seedbed is a publishing house, website and center of a new Wesleyan movement. I am honored to be part of the larger seedbed family and they consistently put out great content.

99u
99u is part of the Behance/Adobe family and is a great website on creative thought. They write about productivity, the process of creation and what innovation focused movement looks like. I read it every day.

Carey Niewhof
Carey is the pastor of Connexus church near Toronto. He writes several times a week and his posts always hit the nail on the head. He has a great view of current culture and innovative leadership.

 

Programs/Member Sites
These are a relatively new resource online. They are rarely free. I have found the investment is worth it. Most give a free trial for you to check things out.

The Rocket Company
The Rocket Company focuses on training church leaders for best practices. They are based in Atlanta and I love their products. I have purchased most of them and they have always been worth the money. The Rocket Company is best known for these products;
Preaching Rocket (I’ve wrote about Preaching Rocket here and here)
Giving Rocket
Volunteer Rocket
The Systems Bundle

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Podcasts are one of the single best learning (and entertainment) tools you have access to today. They are (essentially) free to listen and enjoy. The number of podcasts produced grows every day. Every few months I like to mention my new favorites. You can find the previous posts at the bottom of this post.

My Favorite Podcasts (Volume 3)

Stuff you missed in History Class
This show is in the same genre as Stuff You Should Know (shared in volume 2). Back in the day, preachers all had ticker files. These were filled with clipping from newspapers, magazine articles and book notes. I had a mentor once tell me to always keep a swiss army knife with me so I could use the tiny scissors to cut something out if necessary.

In the digital age I think much of this isn’t necessary. What I do think necessary is to always be listening, learning and absorbing the power of stories. These two podcasts are the cream of the crop of this genre. Every time I listen I learn something knew and store away things for future use.

Stuff You Missed in History Class

Chopper Prophets

I am a fan of motorcycles. More specifically, my Harley Davidson and the culture of motorcycles. Currently, there is a great resurgence of biker culture in the younger crowd. Chopper Prophet interviews folks active in this group and gets great questions in. Not only do you learn from builders, culture creators and known folks in the community, but Mike asks some really great, deep questions. The added benefit is learning about the power and influence of sub-cultures.

Chopper Prophets

Thom Rainer (Rainer on Leadership)
Thom is the president of lifeway and does great research about church leadership/pastoring and church dynamics. His podcast is short, to the point and full of great information. No matter what denomination you are in, I think his show is a must listen.

What I appreciate the most about Thom and his podcast is his willingness to talk about some pretty serious leadership issues and what it takes for both the pastor and the church to grow through them.

Rainer on Leadership

The Lede
Copyblogger has been putting this great podcast out for the last few months. It is a super practical look into what it takes to write great content copy. Overall, The Lede is a great mini-school teaching the skills to do great marketing on the internet. You might be thinking marketing isn’t important for you, but everyone is a content marketer today. I wrote a blog post on why church leaders need to be listening and learning from content marketers. The Lede is a great way to start doing this.

The Lede

I hope this series of posts encourages you to start listening to these and other podcasts. Let me know what you are listening too!

Related Posts:
My Favorite Podcasts (vol 1)My Favorite Podcasts (vol 2)
Why Pastors Should Podcast
My Podcast Toolbox

ProdPastor1

Welcome to the 19th episode of The Productive Pastor. I have a great interview in place for you today with Michael Lukaszewski focusing on systems. This is a topic I have been excited about for a long time. Michael is THE GUY to talk about why your ministry needs to use systems and I am so excited to share this interview with the productive pastor community.

The List:
HT to Dean Libby and Jonathan Andersen for sharing these links with the community via twitter.

4 Things You Thought Were True About Time Management: Amy Gallo
As hot as the subject is right now, people can easily convince themselves of the benefits of practices that aren’t that beneficial. Amy dispels some myths and does a great job questioning things people think are true.

23 Daily Habits That Will Make You Smarter: Maggie Zhang
These are great time hacks…but also great practices. I think all of them can be part of always becoming sharper, more tuned to your life and just productive.

The 7 Deadly Email Sins: Zachary Sexton
Email isn’t a big issue for me, but it is for others. This list outlines some best practices as well as great tips to make sure your inbox doesn’t run you.

Systems with Michael Lukaszewski

1. What Are Systems?
If you need to do something more than once…you need to create a system for it.
They aren’t a set it and forget item, but a way to effectively organize ministry. This is about becoming more effective.

2. How can you lead in systems from the middle?
How can a youth/associate/worship pastor lead using systems? Michael gives some great tips to leading from the middle.

3. What is the biggest conversation for ministry leaders to be having around productivity?
This isn’t about tools, the conversation we need to have is this…

“Is what we are doing truly worthwhile?”

Michaellukaszewski.com
@mlukaszewski

If you are interested in Michael or want more information on systems, check out these links.

Mentioned:
The500network.com/ Improvingchurch.com
The Rocket Company
The Systems Bundle
Five Financial Systems Every Church Should Have (FREE DOWNLOAD)

Remember to sign up for the Productive Pastor Insider List. Get a great FREE productivity resource and the inside scoop every other Friday.

Listen:
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Direct Download
iTunes

 

 

 

ProdPastor1

In this episode of the Productive Pastor I take the time to talk about my favorite time of the day and what mornings can mean for your personal productivity. We take a more conversational approach with this episode, so sit back and enjoy.

The List:
Creating A Lovely Morning: Leo Babauta
Leo gives us a beautiful example of the power of mornings and how they are created.

A Step-by-Step System to Higher Productivity: Greg Hickman
This blog post is for the true productivity nerd. Greg pulls back the curtain and goes really in-depth with his own personal system. I learned some great things here I plan on trying out.

Using Themed Work Weeks Instead of Themed Day Weeks: David Seah
I have been featuring David a lot on the podcast. His latest experiment is really interesting. I am a big fan of themed days. David is experimenting with shifting over to themed weeks.

The Morning Show

In this episode I share about why I absolutely love mornings. I think they are the most important part of the day. Here are a few bullets from what I shared.

  • What does your morning look like? Is it hectic or intentional?
  • My morning reset two years ago.
  • The more we direct our own schedule the more important it is for us to be on top of it.
  • Mornings are the most strategic part of the day. We get things together and plan for progress.
  • Anyone can make a better morning

I also share what my current morning routine is and how I am changing things up to streamline it for my new rhythms.

Remember to tweet your critical element using #productivepastor. You can reach me @revchadbrooks

Interview with Isaac Hopper.

 

Resources Mentioned.
Michael Hyatt: Becoming More Productive by Reengineering your Morning Ritual
Angel Chernoff: 12 Quiet Rituals of Extremely Successful Humans
Ministry Matters
Remember to sign up for the Productive Pastor Insider List. Get a great FREE productivity resource and the inside scoop every other Friday.

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ProdPastor1

I learned a HUGE lesson this last week that will change your ministry.

The funny thing was it already applied to this episode. Isn’t it great how things work like that?

In this episode I want to share with you why you (and your ministry) needs a production calendar. It is one of the big pieces in the picture that helps your ministry be effective and reaching people. I share plenty of resources in this episode, so get ready.

The List:

31 Ways Your Meetings Are Inefficient: Craig Jarrow
Confession. I hate meetings. They seem to always just be happen because people feel a meeting is necessary. Craig gives reasons why meetings sometimes suck and how you can make them better.

Tracking Producing vs Consuming: David Seah
David’s resources are no stranger to the podcast. Over the last month he has been on a journey to actually discover what he is creating/doing instead of just simply working. I have been tracking this journey. This blog post is a great primer to his entire experiment.

Productivity for Pastors-Know Thyself: Tim Spivey
Tim really lays it all out here. This is a great post about keeping it centered and being open to the process.

Why You Need a Production Calendar

This last week I have been at a training with other friends starting new United Methodist congregations in Louisiana this year. We have had an amazing time and I learned a lesson that really affects out discussion today.

Many times we ask questions about why we should be productive (because we are secretly scared we don’t know what to do next). As ministers, many of us didn’t receive practical training in seminary and bible college about these skills. We just keep our fingers crossed and learn as we go.

Imagine what our ministries could do if we understand the simple steps to managing large projects.

Here is my 9 ft long butcher paper timeline for the new church.

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What was the big lesson I learned? Amazing things happen when you focus on the small steps.

It is a simple, step by step timeline for everything I need to get done.

One of my growing passions is to help people learn to take ministry from A (a dream) to Z (done and won). An essential part of this is learning why everyone needs a production calendar. A production (or editorial) calendar is simply a map of everything you have going on.

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Here are the three benefits of a production calendar.

1. Production Calendars help you see the big picture.
Imagine what ministry could be like if everyone was always on the same page and accomplishing the same large goals. This is part of that process. Everyone knows why everything matters. Instead of 8 different focuses going on simultaneously, the entire ministry can focus on common goals and teaching strategies.

No one is shooting in the dark.

They also help you realize when you are teaching way to much of the same subject (yeah, that happens). I learned that lesson from preaching rocket and it changed the last 8 months of my preaching.

2. The Content is right in front of you.
Guess work in ministry is eliminated. You never are asking “what’s next?” When you plan out your month, weeks and days…there is purpose behind every decision.

3. You and your ministry are consistently, steadily moving forward.
It isn’t enough to just keep the ball in the air. That’s what many of us end up doing.

Doing this shouldn’t be scary. It is all about small steps toward much larger goals.

Toolbox Tip:

Keep something with you to always write down ideas. It might be an app, notebook or note cards. This way you can write it down and come back to it later.

Remember to sign up for the Productive Pastor Insider. I’ll give you my Weekly/Daily tools to keep you focused on ministry priorities. These are amazing, big picture resources to help you minister at the highest level of effectiveness.

 

Resources Mentioned:
CoSchedule Free Editoral Calendar Guide and Templates
David Allen: Getting Things Done.
Anne Samoilov: The Simple Content Creation Method + How To Publish More Than You Thought Humanly Possible

Listen:
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Why Plant Churches

June 27, 2014 — 1 Comment

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Some of you know I was recently appointed to start a new Methodist congregation in North Louisiana. I have a mailing list I send out to anyone interested. A few people liked the first email so much I decided to post it here.

Why Plant Churches

One of the first questions I am asked when people hear about my appointment to plant a church is isn’t there already a Methodist church in Sterlington?
 
Yep. There is.
 
Then why start a new one?”
 
Here is where the rubber meets the road. The average church plant will bring 6-8 times more new people into faith than an older congregation of the same size.  Newer people groups and situations require new methods and new churches. New churches are able to streamline and focus ministry in unique ways that existing churches can’t.
 
This isn’t just institutional reproduction. Starting new churches is evangelism.
 
If we want to introduce new people to Jesus, we have to start new churches. 
 
Plain and simple. 
 
Starting a new church isn’t just a desire for something new or cool, but it is about reaching new people for Jesus. I don’t want to pour years of my life and expend tremendous resources for “just another worship optionfor church folks. It is about following the call to be part of something Holy Spirit led. For people who are already followers of Jesus, our highest calling is fulfilling the Great Commission. To follow the pioneering of the Holy Spirit and break new ground, go to new places, do new things and reach new people. God is calling not just Meredith and me, but others to be part of this new church. I don’t know who these people are yet, but I have been praying for them for the past year.
 
And I deeply believe that God is calling me to begin this in the Sterlington area. Not to be better or newer, but to go to a new mission field and meet new people and introduce them to Jesus. To follow the call of God without abandon. To create environments for them to experience God, possibly for the very first time. To help them discover the God-given purpose and call in their life. To create a culture of holiness and sacrificial love. To meet with God, see and experience His kingdom, and be part of doing everything we can to pull it into our place and time“your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” type stuff
 
This is why we are planting a church.

 

ProdPastor1In this episode of the Productive Pastor, I interview Justin Wise. Justin is a consultant and runs #ThinkDigital. If you ministry is curious about how the digital age matters, Justin is the person to talk too. When I sat down to plan out season 2 I knew I wanted to interview Justin. He was gracious with his time and shares plenty of great information with us. I especially appreciated the conversation about call and what ministry looks like (and doesn’t look like) these days.

The List

How to Do More of What You Love (and Less of What You Don’t): Michael Hyatt
Michael has had several great podcasts on delegation. This is just the latest in the subject and it really digs into why everyone needs to be delegating.

How I Work On Several Projects At Once: Mike Vardy
Mike shares something each of us in ministry could learn from. We have jobs requiring multiple balls in the air at the same time. In this blog post, you can learn the benefit of intentional scheduling to keep everything moving ahead.

Schedule Productivity Around Ebb and Flow: Tanner Christensen
Do you ever try to do something important when you just don’t have the energy? The ebb and flow of our day matters, so schedule around it.

Resources Mentioned:
Justinwise.net
The Social Church (AMAZON link)
My review of The Social Church

Productive Pastor Insider Sign Up

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Over the last few months I have been developing a toolkit for a weekly, priority driven schedule.

It was made with folks in ministry in mind…but I think it can add value to anyone. Bundled with it are easy instructions for making this part of your day to day.

You can download it here AND get a bi-monthly email specifically about productivity.

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We haven’t done a guest post in a while. This one is from a good friend who has ministry and passion for Muslims. He wrote a great review of a book all of us could stand to read as we live in an increasingly multicultural setting. If you want to write a guest post, here are the things I ask for.

Connecting with Muslims by Fouad Masri. IVP Press, Downders Grove, IL. 2014. $12.00

Muslims are a great enigma in Western culture; especially in the Christian community. From terrorists who are commanded by their prophet and holy book to kill Americans, to Islamic evangelists poised to forcibly convert the world over to Islam and Sharia law, much of Islam is misunderstood. Yet, the Gospel mandate to “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel” compels us to go to Muslims with the Gospel, but sadly that rarely translates to our next door neighbor. Through immigration and globalized diaspora communities, millions of Muslims live next door and most Christians are too afraid to show them and share with them the love of Jesus. That reason alone is why Fouad Masri’s latest book Connecting with Muslims: A Guide to Communicating Effectively is such an important resource for North American Christians.

Masri not only answers many of the enigma’s that is Islam, he build bridges between Muslims and the average church member so the two can meet and Christ can be shared. The first half of the book focuses on practical ways to connect with Muslims like inviting them to share a meal or simply asking them to explain why they believe what they believe. Masri states “as ambassadors for Jesus, our goal is to construct a bridge by which our friends can cross over from misunderstanding to truth, from fear to faith. However, paralyzed with fear, many Christians hesitate to reach out to Muslims to offer them the same hope and security Jesus offered to them (24).” Jesus died for Muslims to know God and God has given us the responsibility and privilege to share that message with our Muslim neighbors, coworkers, and fellow citizens. How that is done is the contents of the second part of Masri’s book.

Addressing seven major “questions” or “themes” that may get brought up while in conversation with Muslims, Masri first and foremost reminds us that we must be intentional about sharing Jesus with Muslims. Being a Muslim’s friend does not create room for them to meet Jesus, only introducing them to Jesus does that. We do not convert or save, all we do is tell our story. Going through common objections like the Injeel (Arabic New Testament) has been corrupted or that Christians worship three gods, Masri gives helpful and visionary leading to North American Christians to most past fear and indifference, to evangelists who are sharing the life-transforming power of Jesus with a religion that desperately needs to know. “Muslims don’t know what we believe. They don’t know that Jesus has come to be the Savior- their Savior. It is a crisis of information.”

Practically sharing how and inspirationally sharing the what, Masri gives the church a practical and very helpful text in an area that very little has been written about- ministry to Muslims. Evangelism, missions, and church planting pastors need to read this book. God’s heart breaks for Muslims to know Jesus; will we be the carriers of that message? Masri says we must and I cannot recommend this book enough.